This part of the book puts everything together so you can execute the six-minute workout. To do that, I provide you with eight-week workout plans for all levels of the Big Three and additional information about how to get the most from your workout.
I promise that if you follow the program exactly as described in this article, you will see dramatic improvements in your strength, balance, and energy in 15 days.
Here’s a review of programming considerations for the Big Three:
- Number of exercises: Three.
- Sessions a day exercise is performed: Two times a day.
- Time spaced between sessions: At least three hours apart; exercises should preferably be performed before meals.
- Days a week exercise is performed: Exercise seven days a week for the first two weeks, with exercise reduced to six days a week after that.
- Repetitions: Each exercise is performed for up to 15 repetitions in sequence without rest. Whatever amount of repetitions you do should be the same for all exercises within a workout session. One round is counted every time you complete all three of the exercises. Your goal is to complete as many rounds as possible in six minutes or until exhaustion.
- Rest break: Short rest breaks of up to 30 seconds are allowed, but only if you’re completely exhausted and only after a full round of exercise has been completed.
- Order of exercises: This changes daily in a rotational manner. For example, on day one, you’ll perform exercises in the order ABC, on day two CAB, and day three BCA.
- Same or different routines: Same set of exercises daily until you’re ready for a higher level. If you’re on the border between levels, you can perform the harder level for your first session and the easier one for your second session.
- Upper body exercises: Performed once daily after eight weeks of Level II or Level III.
Big Three Level I: Eight-Week Workout Plan
Level I is designed for older adults who can’t stand or who have difficulty standing for at least six minutes with or without support, such as a walker, due to limitations in strength, balance, or energy.
Big Three Level II: Eight-Week Workout Plan
Level II is designed for older adults who have no difficulty standing but who lack the strength or energy to walk at a vigorous pace for at least six minutes. This level is also designed for those who have difficulty going up and down a flight of stairs.
Big Three Level III: Eight-Week Workout Plan
Level III is designed for older adults who are high functioning. This means they can walk at a vigorous pace for more than six minutes and can go up and down several flights of stairs with no difficulty.
Big Three Level IV: Eight-Week Workout Plan
Level IV consists of upper body exercises designed for older adults after they have completed eight weeks of Level II or Level III training.
Track Your Progress and Break Through Plateaus
Tracking your progress is one of the most important ways to figure out when something’s working and when it isn’t. It’s also how you’ll know when you’ve hit a workout plateau.
A plateau is when you stall out on progress despite continuing to do “all of the right things.” Your body has either adapted to the exercise you’ve been performing for a while and needs a different workout, or your body is fatigued from overtraining and needs additional rest in order to progress.
By tracking your progress, you’ll know if any of these issues are plaguing your workout, and I’ll show you how to troubleshoot them to ensure that you keep going on the right path.
Bonnie Blair—one of the top skaters of her era and one of the most decorated athletes in Olympic history—once said, “Winning does not always mean being first. Winning means you are doing better than you have done before.”
Similarly, with exercise, success is not measured by whether you reach or surpass your fitness goals on a particular day. Rather, it’s measured by the small, incremental changes you experience during exercise that let you know you’re doing better than you did before.
The best way to see these changes is by tracking your workout progress. When you track your progress, you know what was accomplished in a workout, and then you can figure out when something’s working and when it isn’t.
Tracking your progress also helps keep you motivated and accountable with exercise and makes it more likely that you will reach and even surpass your fitness goals. It’s simple to track progress. I recommend keeping track of the three Rs: repetitions, rounds, and rest.
Keep track of the number of repetitions you performed during your workouts. While each Big Three exercise is performed for up to 15 repetitions in sequence without rest, you may not be ready for that at the start. Whatever amount of repetitions you do should be the same for all exercises within a workout session.
For example, if you decide to do eight repetitions of each exercise, keep track of this number and note when you feel ready to increase it, then track your progress against the new number. Then repeat. Your goal is to gradually work your way up to 15 repetitions.
- Keep track of the number of rounds you performed during your workouts. One round is counted every time you complete each of the three exercises in the Big Three.
- Keep track of how many rounds you complete during your six-minute workout session. Your goal is to perform progressively more rounds over time.
Keep track of how many rounds you’ve completed before needing to rest during your workouts. Short rest breaks of up to 30 seconds are allowed at the end of a full round of exercise.
Keep track of how many rounds you complete in each session before taking your first rest break. Your goal is to perform progressively more rounds over time without rest and eventually eliminate rest altogether.
By tracking your progress, you’ll notice the three Rs improve rapidly during the first two weeks of exercise if you’re following the seven strategies for unlocking your fitness potential that I mentioned before.
For most people, the rate of improvement tends to slow down a little after the first two weeks, but you should continue to see changes until week eight and beyond. If you notice the three Rs stall for two weeks or more, you might have hit a workout plateau. Let’s now look at how to break through those plateaus.
Breaking Through Plateaus
So, what do you do when you see no progress? It depends on where you are in your workout. We’ll explore what to do when you see no progress at three different stages: after the first two weeks, between week two and week eight, and after week eight.
First two weeks
You should see the three Rs improve rapidly during the first two weeks of exercise. But what if you don’t notice any improvements during this stage of the program?
It’s unlikely that you’ve hit a plateau at this point because you’re so early in the program, and plateaus typically happen after you’ve been exercising for several weeks or more. Likely, you need to revisit the fundamentals of exercise to make sure they’re in line.
First, review the seven strategies for unlocking your fitness potential, and make sure you’re following each of them.
Second, review chapter 17 and make sure you’re also following the suggestions for personalization, precision, and programming.
If this doesn’t resolve the issue, see if changing the level of the workout will help. Doing these things will resolve most cases of lack of progress during the first two weeks.
Between week two and week eight
What if you notice no improvements for two consecutive weeks between week two and week eight of the program? It’s normal for improvements to slow down a little after the first two weeks, but you should continue to see changes until week eight and beyond.
If you’re not making progress and you’re feeling more fatigued than usual, you might be overtraining. This is a common reason for a plateau, and the most effective thing to do to overcome this is to rest.
Take an entire week off from performing the exercises before picking up where you left off. After resting for a week, you should immediately start to see improvements.
If you’re feeling good, go through the same steps as in the first two weeks. Also make sure nothing has changed in your life that may impact your progress, such as:
- Sleep: Exercise performance will be impacted negatively if you’re not sleeping enough or not sleeping well.
- Physical activity outside of exercise: You may be more tired during exercise if you have more going on throughout your day.
- Changes to medications or health: Changes in your medications and health condition may negatively impact exercise performance.
If factors outside of exercise are impacting your workout progress, keep exercising unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Doing something is better than doing nothing, and you’ll be better off if or when these factors are no longer an issue.
After week eight
What if you notice no improvements for two consecutive weeks after week eight of the program? Again, it’s normal for improvements to slow down a bit after the first two weeks, but you should continue to see changes even beyond eight weeks.
Go through the same steps as you did between week two and week eight. If none of the problems listed apply, or if none of the solutions fix the problem, it might be a sign that your body needs something different for it to continue changing; plateaus can also happen when your body has adjusted to the demands of your workout and are a sign that you need something different to continue progressing.
If you’re on Level I or II, try replacing one session a day with a higher level, or move on entirely to a higher level. If you’re on Level II or Level III, you can replace one session a day with a lower level to give your body something different to improve your progress.
On the other hand, a workout plateau after eight weeks might not be a big deal if you’re happy with your progress and don’t feel that you need additional strength, energy, and balance. If this is the case, you can maintain your current level of function without losing any of the gains you’ve made by exercising one session a day for four or five days a week.
Now that you can identify and troubleshoot issues that may plague your progress, you can sail through the program unless you have some physical limitations. In the next chapter, I’ll show you how to adapt exercise to any physical limitations you may have.
Track the three Rs in a notebook. You’ll find a place on the bottom right side of the printable eight-week workout plan where you can track the three Rs.
Notice the progress you’re making, and also notice if you’ve made no progress for two consecutive weeks. If so, use the information in this chapter to help keep you going on the right path.
Adapting Exercise to Physical Limitations
You may have limitations that prevent you from performing an exercise with the technique I’ve instructed or even from performing an exercise at all. But don’t worry. It’s okay to adapt the exercises in this book to what works for you and to disregard an exercise entirely if needed. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
For example, if you’re unable to point your feet straight forward on a standing exercise, like the heel lift, because of a physical limitation, don’t worry about it. If it’s been cleared by your doctor, perform the exercise in whatever manner works for you.
If you have had a stroke and are paralyzed on an entire side of your body, perform the exercise only on the side you do have control over. If you can perform an exercise only with assistance due to a lack of strength or some other reason, you can ask a family member or caregiver to help.
However, the assistance provided should be the minimum needed for you to perform the exercise so your body can get as much work as possible.
Exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do for your body and your health. Soon after you start this program, you’ll begin to see and feel the benefits that physical activity can have on your well-being.
I want this program to work for you, and doing something is better than doing nothing, so feel free to adapt the exercises to whatever works for you and modify the program to accommodate your limitations.
But it isn’t just physical limitations that may stand in your way, so in the next section, I’ll provide tips for family members and caregivers helping older adults with memory issues or who lack the motivation to exercise.
- Look at the exercises you would like to perform, and see if you need to adapt or eliminate any from your workout.
- Are there any exercises you can perform but only with assistance due to a lack of strength or some other reason? If so, ask for help from a family member or caregiver.
Tips for Family Members and Caregivers
Older adults with memory issues or who lack the motivation to exercise will need help from another person.
Although we never want to force someone to exercise when they don’t want to, persuasion is sometimes necessary because a persistent lack of movement leads to serious issues, such as debility, bedsores, and injuries from falls.
Older adults with memory issues or who lack motivation may have a difficult time starting and sticking with an exercise program. But I’ve found it becomes less challenging once exercise becomes routine, and changes in strength, balance, and energy become apparent after a few weeks.
The key to persuasion is a simple process I’ve created called the four Es: enthusiasm, empathy, encouragement, and ease. This process takes only a few minutes and has been effective with even my most exercise-resistant clients.
Let’s explore each step in detail.
Richard Simmons, the semi-retired American fitness instructor known for his eccentric and energetic personality, is a great example of enthusiasm at its best.
It’s difficult not to feel pumped up and motivated to move when you watch him. So the first step in motivating someone is to be enthusiastic. Your enthusiasm is contagious, and it can shift another person’s energy level and desire to exercise in powerful ways.
To make enthusiasm work, you have to authentically feel it and express it in your words and body language.
Try to authentically feel and express enthusiasm in your voice, posture, gesture, and facial expression while saying something like, “Dad, it’s time to exercise. It’ll only take six minutes, and you’ll feel great afterwards. Let’s do it!” If you encounter any resistance, move to the next step.
The second step is to feel and express empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s important because a person is more likely to be open to your suggestions when they know you’ve understood and considered their perspective.
So to feel empathetic, you should know the common reasons why an older adult may not want to exercise: They may have lost hope that things will ever get better. They may be fearful that the aches and pains they experience daily will get worse if they exercise. They may feel constantly exhausted and don’t know if they have the energy needed to exercise.
Whatever the reason, start by stepping into their shoes and feel what they may be feeling. Then express your understanding through your words and body language. Try to authentically feel and express empathy in your voice, posture, gesture, and facial expression while saying something like, “Dad, I can understand that you’re feeling exhausted, and the aches that come with your age don’t help.
I also wonder if you’ve lost some hope that things can get better.” It helps to pause for several seconds at this point to tune in to feelings that may be coming up for you and the other person. Then, move to the next step, which is to encourage the person.
After feeling and expressing empathy, it’s time to encourage the person to exercise. For this to be effective, I suggest doing two things. First, understand the person’s personal values and bring them into this step. A person’s values can be things like determination or hope or respecting authority figures such as doctors.
Second, remind the person of the benefits of exercise that are important to them. These benefits can be things like feeling more energized after exercising, gaining the ability to live more independently, feeling happier because they can avoid hospitalizations, or having more energy playing with the grandchildren.
Whatever the reason for exercising, keep it positive and express it with passion in your words and body language.
Use this step to authentically feel and express passion in your voice, posture, gesture, and facial expression while saying something like, “Dad, you always told us growing up that sometimes things will get worse before they get better, and having hope will get you through these times. It’s no different getting your body working better through exercise. Remember how much you want to get back to gardening? What do you say?” If the person still isn’t convinced to exercise at this point, it’s time for the final step.
The fourth and final step is to ease into exercise. Use this when the previous steps haven’t persuaded the person to take action. Your goal is to make exercise something the person can try for a few repetitions to see how it feels, knowing they can stop any time.
To make this step work, I recommend you first openly acknowledge that the person really doesn’t want to exercise. Then suggest that they try just a few repetitions of one exercise to see how it feels. Tell them they can stop at any time.
Perform this step with enthusiasm, and encourage the person to continue exercising after they’ve started. With enthusiastic encouragement, most people won’t stop exercising once they’ve begun and may even surprise you with their new motivation.
Use this step to authentically feel and express enthusiasm in your voice, posture, gesture, and facial expression while saying something like, “I totally understand that the idea of exercise doesn’t sit well with you right now, but let’s just do five chair squats and see how it feels. I’ll help you, and you can stop any time if you don’t want to continue after that. Come on, let’s start now.”
As the person approaches the fifth repetition of the exercise, enthusiastically encourage them to continue by saying something like, “Wow, you’re looking really strong! I’m amazed by how well you’re doing! Keep going, I know you’ve got it in you!”
Applying the four Es takes only a few minutes and has been effective with even my most exercise-resistant clients. However, at times, nothing you do will persuade someone to exercise. It’s best to yield to the person’s wishes in these moments.
Fortunately, just two or three good workout sessions a week is enough to see improvements with this program in most adults. That may be all you will get out of someone who really doesn’t like to exercise—but after a few weeks, they may be more motivated after noticing improvements in their strength, balance, and energy. So stay positive and be patient!
If you’re a family member or a caregiver for an older adult you’d like to help with exercise, practice the four Es a few times on your own to get comfortable with the method before using it to persuade them to exercise.
Do You Have to Take Supplements With Workout Plan?
Some people might use natural fat burners as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle to increase metabolism or decrease appetite. When combined with a healthy diet, it will further increase the loss of excess body fat – and may also have other beneficial effects.
Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.
While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews because the supplement industry is rife with scams.
Besides, it should be noted that supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. Pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet and regular exercise.
In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications or have any health concerns.